New Zealand’s junior men’s curling team has secured automatic qualification into next year’s world championships.
The team, which has been competing at the World Junior Curling Championships in Nova Scotia, this month, automatically requalified for next year’s event after it finished with four wins and a placing of sixth.
That result means they avoid having to compete at the World Junior B qualifier and instead will go straight to the World Junior Curling Championships.
Although their sixth-place finish was guaranteed before their last game against Canada, the team was still keen for a good performance.
However, an on-fire Canadian side had other ideas and took an emphatic 12-1 win.
NZ skip Matt Neilson was disappointed with the result, but buoyant about his side’s prospects for the 2020 World Championship.
“We wanted to play well,” he said.
“But we made a few mistakes from the start and were put on the back foot.
“We’re definitely going to be stronger next year. We will have a full year of training and we’re really looking forward to it.
“This tournament has given us a lot to learn from.”
National coach Peter de Boer was full of praise for the all-Otago team of Neilson, Anton Hood, Ben Smith, Hunter Walker and Jayden Apuwai-Bishop.
Stealing three of their wins in an extra end showed their character, he said.
“They fight like tigers and due to their humble, unflappable Kiwi style, when the going gets tough they roll their sleeves up.”
He noted that the Kiwi side was playing just its 16th competition game of the season when they played the United States, whereas the US had played in 14 full tournaments.
“This young Kiwi side has real potential,” he said.
“But we will need to find the resources to send them overseas to play more high-level competitive games.”
Canada went on to win the men’s gold medal from Switzerland (silver) and Scotland (bronze).
Norway and the US joined New Zealand to round out the top six sides to automatically requalify for next year’s World Junior Championship.
The women’s event was won by Russia, followed by Canada in second and Switzerland third.